What namespace do you want to search in?
Per default searching via the search box in the sidebar only scans the CoLab namespace "Main". Most pages are part of that namespace, but there are other namespaces such as "MPDLMediaWiki" (containing meta-information on the CoLab Wiki) or "Category" (containing all category pages). These pages are excluded from your standard search. If you want to search in more namespaces than just the Main namespace, you can either
- adjust your preferences (choose the "Search"-tab) or
- use the extended search: Click "Search" in the search box in the sidebar without entering a search string before. This will lead you to the extended search where you can choose the namespaces.
Tips for effective searches
Go is case sensitive
The function of the go button is to display a page directly, instead of first having to select it from the search result page. In other words, it allows you to quickly navigate from page to page without following links.
Avoid short and common words
If your search terms include a common stop word (such as the, your, more, right, while, when, who, which, such, every, about), you may see many irrelevant results. Previously, Wikipedia's search function could not search for such words]. Since February 2006, Wikipedia's Lucene index does not filter out stop words, so any word can be processed in search queries.
Words with special characters
In a search for a word with a diaeresis, such as Sint Odiliënberg, it depends whether this ë is stored as one character or as "ë". In the first case one can simply search for Odilienberg (or Odiliënberg); in the second case it can only be found by searching for Odili, euml and/or nberg. This is actually a bug in the mediawiki Software that should be fixed -- the entities should be folded into their raw character equivalents so all searches on them are equivalent. See also Special characters.
Words in single quotes
If a word appears in an article with single quotes, you can only find it if you search for the word with quotes. Since this is rarely desirable, it is better to use double quotes in articles for which this problem does not arise. See the manual of style for more info.
An apostrophe is identical to a single quote, therefore the name Mu'ammar can be found only by searching for exactly that (and not otherwise). A word with 's is an exception in that it can be found also by searching for the word without the apostrophe and the s.
Phrases in double quotes -- exact match only
A phrase can easily be found by enclosing it in double quotes. For example, "holly dolly" returns six matches; holly dolly (two standalone words) returns 197.